Promoting collaborative working within the construction industry
Keith Snook, when RIBA Director of Research & Technical produced a paper to help provide a definition of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for adoption throughout the construction industry. The proliferation of interpretations of the term is at present hampering the adoption of a method of working that will revolutionise construction and improve the quality and sustainability of what the design and construction team delivers to the client.
This is a summary of the paper which can be found for comment, debate and further development on the RIBA Knowledge Community on Integrated Project Working
The purpose of the paper is to plot the state of current practice in the production of the information that describes construction projects and create an agreed ‘definition’. The RIBA and other professional bodies and organisations such as CPIC and BuildingSmart have come together to create a brief statement to promote a common understanding of the steps involved and propose a definition.
“Building Information Modelling is digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility creating a shared knowledge resource for information about it forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle, from earliest conception to demolition.”
The definition is based closely on the US National BIM Standards Committee (NBIMS).
Managing building information using a building information model can lead to substantial design and construction cost savings. Time can be saved when extra coordination checks are unnecessary and waste on site can be substantially reduced because the information generated from the model will lead to fewer errors on site due to inaccurate and uncoordinated information. When all members of the construction team work on the same model, from early design through to completion, changes are automatically coordinated across the project and information generated is therefore high quality.
Information Technology is an integral part of commerce and life. Transferring information from designers to the producers (constructors/installers) in the construction process is an example where, with the availability of modelling software, the tools are in place if we understand the process for using them. Understanding the basic information transfer requirement is as important as the technology itself and the way in which it is used. The software vendors will have solutions to the technology issues but they will not have the expertise to define the ‘problem’ and we should not expect them to.
The paper uses a diagram created and refined during 2008 by Mark Bew of BuildingSmart and Mervyn Richards of CPIC, to describe the principles of the evolution from what may now be called ‘traditional’ CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) at the left to an integrated and interoperable Building Information Model (BIM or iBIM) at the right.
Most design practice today, rests to the left of the first red line. In the CAD zone of the diagram the computer is used to automate the drawing board in that it works with lines and shapes and text blocks to produce traditional looking drawings which are conceptually no different from those of the drawing board. This is Phase zero. In the next phase, levels move into the third dimension and the potential for more sophisticated manipulation to help both the design and interpretation processes increase significantly. Within this phase the term 3D can be used for the creation of useful drawn views in three dimensions enabling functions such as services/structure clash detection to achieve some degree of reliable automation. A BIM system can of course produce drawings but is no longer based on lines, shapes and text boxes but on data sets that describe Today CAD is no longer based on lines, shapes and text boxes but on data sets that describe objects virtually, as they will be physically handled by operatives, trades-people, specialists, and even machines and robots. The most pressing demand is true interoperability and the capability for proper integration allowing the inputs of the various professionals and specialist to come together.
BIM is the future but there is confusion about what it is and how it should be utilised and implemented. Using its three dimensional capability to produce visualisations is becoming widespread, however, limiting its use is not exploiting the true potential for providing information about the building and its construction. BIM must meet the needs of the users of the content of the BIM (as distinct from the users of the BIM software) and, by definition, must be totally integrated.
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